Valentine’s Day is not the only day for cutting out perfect hearts, wearing red and showing love, because the entire month of February has been dedicated to the heart. February is National Heart Month and the purpose of National Heart Month is to emphasize the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, to bring awareness that heart disease is a problem that plagues many patients, and increasing fundraising efforts in order to be able to provide new more effective treatments for heart disease.
The Center for Disease Control states that 600,000 patients die every year due to heart disease; this is equivalent to 1 in 4 deaths. First, it is important to know that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women; in fact, 1 in 3 women will die due to a heart related health problem, whereas 1 in 31 women will die due to breast cancer. Why is this?
Women are more likely to die from a heart attack than men, because women do not have the traditional symptoms of heart attacks, such as grasping the chest and chest pain, as the media shows. In fact, 64% of women will not present with any traditional symptoms that would indicate that they were having a heart attack. Some symptoms that these women may experience are trouble breathing, nausea, and dizziness. A good way to remember what the symptoms of a heart attack are is by using the word PULSE.
• Persistent chest pain-remember not all people, especially women will have this symptom
• Upset stomach
• Shortness of breath
• Excessive sweating
So if you are having these symptoms it is important to see your health care provider; it is even more crucial to seek medical attention if you have risk factors for heart disease, which include:
• Smoking cigarettes-smokers are twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to non-smokers
• Other relatives who have died or currently have heart disease
• High cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• Lack of physical activity
• Post-menopausal women
• High stress levels
• Poor nutritional diet
• Heart disease is more prevalent in African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic patients
Many of these risk factors can be controlled or gotten rid of by eating a healthy diet and exercising. So if you already tried to make eating healthy and exercising a habit for your New Year’s resolution, continue with it or if you have fallen off the track get back on, because this is a perfect time! Your doctor will be able to help with personalizing the most appropriate diet and exercise plan for your body’s needs. In addition, your doctor may prescribe you medications that will help to control cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes, which will help to decrease your risk of heart disease.
One patient will die every 60 seconds due to heart disease! Clearly, this is an important health issue, so this February, start with making your own life more healthy For more information on National Heart Month, heart health, and to donate time or money to the efforts to decrease the prevalence of heart disease, visit the American Heart Association website at http://www.heart.org
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